Boris Johnson has promised that the rights of EU citizens currently working in the UK will be "fully protected" following the Brexit vote in last week's referendum.
Boris Johnson, one of the favourites to succeed David Cameron as prime minister
, stated that British citizens would still be free to work, study and travel throughout Europe, and that a continuation of free trade would be agreed under the terms of the UK's exit from the union.
His comments came as a snap survey by the Institute of Directors (IoD) showed that 22 per cent of its members were considering relocating at least part of their company operations outside the UK as a result of the Brexit decision.
Mr Johnson, one of the leaders of the successful 'leave' campaign, added in his column in Monday's Daily Telegraph
that the "government will be able to take back democratic control of immigration policy, with a balanced and humane points-based system to suit the needs of business and industry".
He wrote, "I cannot stress too much that Britain is part of Europe, and always will be. There will still be intense and intensifying European cooperation and partnership in a huge number of fields, the arts, the sciences, the universities, and on improving the environment.
"EU citizens living in this country will have their rights fully protected, and the same goes for British citizens living in the EU.
"British people will still be able to go and work in the EU, to live; to travel; to study; to buy homes and to settle down. As the German equivalent of the CBI – the BDI – has very sensibly reminded us, there will continue to be free trade, and access to the single market.
"The only change – and it will not come in any great rush – is that the UK will extricate itself from the EU's extraordinary and opaque system of legislation, the vast and growing corpus of law enacted by a European Court of Justice from which there can be no appeal.
"This will bring not threats, but golden opportunities for this country – to pass laws and set taxes according to the needs of the UK."
His remarks came amid mounting business unease
about the ramifications of the Brexit vote. The IoD survey on Monday showed that almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of members believed the referendum result would have a negative impact on their business, and that 24 per cent were planning a freeze on recruitment.
By comparison, 23 per cent thought the Brexit vote would have a positive impact on their business (9 per cent felt it would make no difference), while 32 per cent said recruitment would be unaffected. The results were based on a survey of 1,092 IoD members between June 24-26.
Simon Walker, director general of the IoD, said, “Businesses will be busy working out how they are going to adapt and succeed after the referendum result. But we can’t sugarcoat this, many of our members are feeling anxious. A majority of business leaders think the vote for Brexit is bad for them, and as a result plans for investment and hiring are being put on hold or scaled back.”
Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, will meet with Business Secretary Sajid Javit on Tuesday to set out businesses’ priorities following the referendum and to demand new, post-Brexit safeguards for EU workers living in the UK.
"EU migrants already working in the UK, and contributing greatly to our economy, should be given long-term certainty that they can stay here," she told Sky News.
In an article in the Sunday Times
, Mr Javid said there were concerns about "unrestricted immigration from the EU", adding, "I am sympathetic with many of them, and it's vital they are addressed if we're going to tackle the rising tide of anti-politics, anti-business sentiment. But tightening our borders cannot mean barring the door. For centuries, foreign businesses, foreign investors and skilled foreign workers have come to the UK and helped build the world-beating economy we have today. That outward-looking attitude must continue."
Ms Fairbairn is also writing to the Prime Minister, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Treasury outlining companies’ top priorities to minimise the uncertainties which could affect the UK’s future economic growth.
Writing in The Times
on Monday, she said, “The British people have spoken in an explosive referendum result which will define the fortunes of the United Kingdom for generations to come. The impact cannot be underestimated and will take time to understand. Many people, including the UK’s thousands of businesses, are asking what this means for them and the people who depend on them. What we need is a plan. The government must act with urgency to minimize the uncertainties that affect investment decisions and slow job creation.”
Ms Fairbairn said there was a need to get "strong, calm and decisive leadership" in place in Downing Street as soon as possible and that there must be agreement on the principles that should underpin the UK's new relationship with Europe. “This means seeking to protect tariff and barrier-free access to the Single Market, ensuring companies are able to continue to attract the best people to the UK with the skills we need, while recognising public concerns about immigration. And, it means setting out clearly how the UK will agree the right international trade deals with the wider world," she added.
Read analysis of what the vote to leave the EU may mean for for the global mobility industry in Brexit is a reality – a new era for global mobility? by Relocate Global's managing editor, Fiona Murchie.
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